The trouble with democracy


Q What’s wrong with democracy?
A The other side often wins!

And, being democratic, we have to respect the result – even if only 24 per cent of the population voted for the winners. Here in Rye the very capable and hard-working Amber Rudd has been returned with an increased majority, and deservedly promoted to Cabinet as Energy Secretary [see Christopher Strangeways]. I believe she will continue to work hard for the less fortunate of her constituents.

So can we really condemn her supporters as factually and morally mistaken?

The former Canon Chancellor of St Pauls (Giles Fraser) has this to say: “Right now I feel ashamed to be English. Ashamed to belong to a country that has clearly identified itself as insular, self-absorbed and apparently caring so little for the most vulnerable people among us. Why did a million people visiting food banks make such a minimal difference? Did we really just vote for our own narrow concerns and sod the rest?” [The Guardian, May 9 2015]

The Conservatives won with an aggressive, divisive, mostly negative, largely mendacious campaign whose tone and agenda were set by the Conservative-supporting newspapers and comics that make up more than 80 per cent of our national newsprint – all of them owned by non-dom proprietors who do not pay UK taxes.

With the honourable exception of Channel 4 News, TV journalists, commentators and pundits failed to redress the balance by challenging that agenda. Television scrutiny was feeble or non-existent. Berlusconi’s Italy used to amuse and outrage us. We often asked then: how can democracy survive if the media is overwhelmingly and ruthlessly on one side of the divide? Italy’s turn to laugh at us perhaps?

Q What’s the second thing wrong with democracy?
A It doesn’t have a sense of humour

* “Democracy is a religion that has failed the poor” by Dr Giles Fraser can be viewed on The Guardian website here. His regular column in called “Loose Canon”

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